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Doctor Who Planet of the Dead was another entertaining installment into the series, if not quite spectacular. It was a variation on a David Tennant’s Doctor trope of having the Doctor fall into a situation with a group of innocents with a dangerous alien threat emerging, and the Doctor miraculously pulling off a save. The episode in particular very much reminded me of “Midnight” from Season 4, with a little added mortal peril and special affects for flair.
Honestly though, with the knowledge there will be at least two more appearances before David Tennant steps down as The Doctor and his new replacement, Matt Smith, steps in the peril was obviously little. Instead Planet of the Dead viewed as a light hearted love song, with perhaps subtle themes to the Doctor’s end being sown (The Doctor feels this might be planned). There was very little actual push towards the end until the final few moments of the episode.
Tennant’s Doctor does a nice job summarizing the major part of his character’s evolution and arch throughout the episode. This is most pointedly done when The Doctor responds to a somewhat snide remark from the Lady Christina de Souza, his companion for this stand along episode, in the midst of danger.
One scene deftly illustrates the nature of who The Doctor is when he points out that the most important things are the everyday ones like food, home, and people we love when trying to assure the passengers on a bus that travelled to a barren planet through a wormhole. After receiving a cheeky response from Lady Christina de Souza about him being just all full of hope The Doctor hits the nail on the head.
“I live in hope,” he dead pan responds.
As the series progresses other small nuances of the 10th Doctor’s character quirks are brought to light as well. As we learn that a mindless alien horde has devoured the planet the Doctor and bus crew were sucked into, and that they are also the source of the wormhole that will lead the horde to Earth to devour it too, The Doctor, and Lady de Souza become quite animated. We see the familiar gleam of Tennant’s Doctor rising to the challenge of beating an almost unbeatable set of circumstances
“The worse it gets the more I love it,” The Doctor exclaims.
“Me too,” said Lady de Souza, played by the wonderfully sassy and strong Michelle Ryan.
Perhaps the saddest part of the whole series is the fact that Ryan was not able to become a more permanent fixture in the Who Universe. I fell in love with her interaction with Tennant almost immediately.
The episode ends with the help of some lovely secondary casts members such as Professor Malcom Taylor played by Lee Evans. Taylor is a professor on the Earth side of the rift who ultimately acts heroic by standing up to his superior in UNIT in waiting for the Doctor to come through before closing the wormhole. He is also ga-ga for the Doctor and hangs onto every little word the Doctor speaks to him through one of his “doctored” cell phones from the Planet of the Dead.
Malcom can also be viewed as a stand in for many fans of Tennant’s Doctor at the end of the episode, when finally meeting the Doctor in person all Taylor can do is grab him and say “I love you. I love you.”
After what appears to be a nice and tidy solution, with The Doctor receiving a huge round of applause and love the audience is reminded that Tennant’s end as The Doctor is near. Carmen, a clairvoyant psychic, tells The Doctor an unnamed it travels back through the dark and that “he” will come with four knocks. This of course is setting up the 10th Doctor’s demise.
We still have one more Tennant/Doctor mini- movie to go with Waters of Mars before the final episode.
And looking ahead, some details were revealed on the ending of the 10th Doctor on Sunday, July 26 during the San Diego Comic-Con conclusion which Tennant and Russel T. Davies attended.
It seems that The Master will return to bridge between the 10th and 11th Doctor and that Timothy Dalton plays a mysterious role, possibly as another Time Lord? Ah, the speculation begins. And I must say, I’ve learned to love every version of the Doctor from my introduction to him played by Tom Baker repeats of Doctor Who on my local PBS station as a child throughout the reboot. And Tennant himself reflected that sentiment too, according to the What’s Alan Watching? blog coverage of the SDCC panel.
“And I never forgot him, or loved him any less, but then Peter Davison came along, and within three weeks, I thought he was the best. I think what makes the show go on forever.”